In a world where people, particularly the young are concerned about climate change and its impact, this is a story of hope. The story of a real place, one that is essential to humanity’s and the planet’s future.
Isla and her mother often explore the forest at the end of their garden looking for plants and listening to the trees. When Isla finds a beautiful yet strange seed pod, she wants to keep it, her mother has another idea. She explains there is a place at the end of the world halfway between Norway and the North Pole, on an ice-covered island deep inside a mountain is a vault holding millions of plant seeds, seeds that can live for hundreds of years and used if disaster strikes crops around the world. Together Isla and her mother travel into a cold polar winter to deposit the seed pod Isla has found. Despite a small but scary hiccup when Isla almost loses the seeds they arrive at the vault and leave the seed pod to be safely held for the future.
The artwork is bright and bold and there is a dramatic contrast between the lush forest at the start and the dark wintery scenes in Norway. Images of planes flying over snow covered mountains and skimming across the snow on snowmobiles as well as the sky lit up with the Northern lights or Aurora Borealis will entrance readers as will the shadowy images of plants set against the wintery landscape as if to emphasis the importance of the vault. The blue and white images of plants on the endpapers give a lovely resonance to the story as does the text’s figurative language which adds a depth, life and meaning to a cold wintery place but one of real importance to the future of the planet.
At the end of the book is information about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Although there are more than 1700 plant gene banks worldwide the Svalbard Seed vault is the world’s largest. Opened in 2008, it’s remote location and cold climate provide additional layers of security and protection. The permafrost (frozen soil) ensures that even in a power failure all the temperatures remain below freezing. The vault is a crucial tool in promoting food security and crop diversity for both current and future generations.